How to Paint a Lamp Base

See how to paint a lamp base using spray paints and chalk paint. Give an old lamp new life and a gorgeous, glossy finish!

One of the biggest challenges in moving into our home has been fitting our older furnishings into the new house. Of course, I wanted to have a little bit of fun and redo several of the rooms, but I absolutely wanted to reuse as much as possible from what we already had.

lamp with dark base on an end table.

Take, for example, these lamps. I think we've had these somewhere in our home since shortly after getting married in 2007. They've been in our living room for the majority of that time, and let's put it this way…they've served their time. They were kind of dated, scratched, and just kind of boring. I knew they still had a little bit of life left in them though and wanted to find a place for them to work in our new home.

I love the look of colored glass that I've seen in a few catalogs lately. I thought it would be a beautiful addition to our bedroom, which already has a few hints of light blue. But have you priced lamps recently? They aren't cheap! I couldn't justify parting with perfectly good lamps, so I decided to give them a little bit of a makeover instead.

light blue lamp with neutral lamp shade.

Here's how I did it!

diy painted glass finish lamp base makeover.

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Step 1: Prep and prime your lamp base.

two lamp bases with top taped off.

Start by using masking tape to mark off any areas you don't want to paint. You'll be using several spray products in this project, so taping off is essential.

cord to lamp base taped off.

In addition to taping off the bulb receptacles, I also tightly wrapped tape around about 4 inches of the cord and taped the remainder of it down to my drop cloth. I also gave the surface of the lamp a good cleaning to get it ready for primer.

holding a can of zinsser bulls eye primer.

I wrote about using Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer in my laminate chalk painting post. I also used it for this project…it worked just as well on the somewhat metallic, very smooth surface of these lamps as it did on my laminate furniture. I love this stuff. It helps pretty much any kind of paint imaginable stick to pretty much any kind of surface imaginable. This was not a particularly easy surface for painting and I had zero issues after using this primer!

two lamp bases; one painted with primer.

spray painting primer onto a lamp base.

two lamp bases painted with primer, on a drop cloth.

I used 2 very thin coats of primer on each lamp, with about a 20 minute dry time in between coats. That's another thing I love about the Zinsser primer – it has a really quick dry time and is so easy to apply in this coats for quick drying. And there's isn't really a big issue if it's gappy – your paint in the next step will cover any thin spots.

Step 2: Paint to the color of your choice with chalk paint.

bottle of waverly inspirations crystal chalk acrylic paint, with a paint brush.

I really wanted a very light blue for this project – I like a little pop of color, but I didn't want the shade to overwhelm the room. If you've seen my bedroom decor before, you'll know that it's all in a subtle shade of blue. I wanted the lamps to be even more of a subtle shade, and this Waverly Chalk Paint in Crystal was the perfect complement to our bedroom decor.

painting primer onto a lamp base.

This required 3 good, thin coats to completely cover the primer. I wanted to have a really even color on the lamp before my final seal went on to give it that glassy look.

two lamp bases painted with primer, on a drop cloth.

This was after 1 coat, applied with a simple foam brush. It was really streaky after one and definitely had that matte finish that chalk paint is known for.

two lamp bases on a dropcloth.

After 2 coats, it was looking much more even!

Step 3: Apply a very glossy polyurethane spray.

With lamps, you're more than likely going to have a lot of nooks and crannies. Therefore, it's kind of difficult to use a traditional paint-on poly to get that really even, glossy look of a glass-finished lamp.

can of polycrylic spray paint.

That's why this is my second favorite product in this post. I've used Mixwax Polycrylic on several other projects…I sealed our farmhouse kitchen table with the paint-on version and I used the satin finish for our chalk painted laminate furniture.

(I only had a picture of the satin finish from another project, but for this project I actually used the gloss finish.)

This is the time-consuming part. I think I had to put 6 coats of the poly on to really get that super glossy finish. But, the good news is it doesn't take an incredibly long time to do that – I think I waited an hour or two between thin coats. It's easy to knock this step out in a day!

light blue lamp base with woven shade.

And guys, let me tell you…the result is so worth it. I finished the lamps off with this inexpensive linen drum shade and they were instantly a focal point of the master bedroom. Hopefully the whole space will be finished soon so I can show it off!

Here's to teaching the old dogs in our home new tricks!

More DIY Projects…


xo, Leslie; signature at end of the blog post.

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